Congratulations to South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Job Club student Sarah-Louise Rea who competed in the Special Olympics World Games.

Sarah-Louise (19) from Lisburn fought off stiff competition to win Gold in Women’s Singles for badminton at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi. Her winning streak didn’t stop there as she also claimed fourth place in the Women’s Doubles for badminton.

Sarah-Louise competed for Team Ireland, which included 21 Ulster athletes. Combined, the team had an impressive haul of 86 medals: 30 gold, 29 silver and 27 bronze across a variety of sports in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking about her spectacular win Sarah-Louise said, “It was a fantastic experience travelling to Abu Dhabi to represent Ireland and compete in a sport that I am so passionate about. The competition was tough, but I knew I had the skills and abilities to win gold and I am really proud of my achievements.”

“My lecturers and fellow classmates at SERC have been really supportive. My course has been really flexible and has allowed to me work around my commitments to compete in the competition.”

She added, “I have ADHD and autism and playing badminton has been such a great way for me to improve my social skills. I feel more comfortable working in a team and communicating with others which I would sometimes find challenging. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has been such a rewarding experience.”

“Competing in the Special Olympics was so important to me. I made my family proud and had a platform to show people that sport is for everyone. Don’t hold yourself back from doing something you love.”

Ken Webb, SERC Principal and Chief Executive said, “Congratulations to Sarah-Louise on her success at this year’s Special Olympics. She is an inspiration for current and future students of what can be achieved through hard work, determination and confidence. Sarah-Louise is a credit to the College and I wish her luck for future competitions.”

SERC has a proud tradition of supporting student athletes in their sporting and academic pursuits, including previous student Rhys McClenaghan who won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and was also awarded 2018 RTE Young Sportsperson of the Year. Former student Kevin Seaward finished an impressive fourth place in the Men's Marathon at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. In 2016 Bethany Firth won four medals — three gold and one silver — at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In 2012 student Chloe Brown got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accompany David Beckham and four other young sports people to attend the Olympic Flame Handover in Athens.

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